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NZNO welcomes plan to grow health workforce

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 13 September 2023

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) welcomes the plan to grow the health workforce announced by Health Minister Ayesha Verrall and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins today, but says even bolder action is required to fix the health crisis in Aotearoa New Zealand.

NZNO President Anne Daniels said there is much in the announced policy that resonates with what nurses have been campaigning for.

“The plan to grow the workforce for both doctors and nurses is laudable, as is the recognition that paying nurses and midwives well, and improving their working conditions, is crucial to retaining them.

“However, we need at least 4000 more nurses right now, as many are still leaving the profession or are due to retire. 700 per year starting next year is just not going to fix the problem quickly enough and nurses’ ability to provide adequate care will just continue to decline.

On the need for free training to attract more nursing students, Ms Daniels said she noted the plan includes opportunities at least for nurses to earn as they learn.

“That’s not free training but we look forward to clarification on exactly what it might mean.”

Ms Daniels said the plan to grow the Māori and Pasifika nursing workforce was also welcome and important.

“It is unjust and contrary to te Tiriti that we are unable to provide culturally appropriate care to Māori and Pasifika. This has left them disenfranchised from the health system, which costs us all more in the long run.

“More Māori nurses are essential to Māori having self-determination in health, and the skills and the cultural knowledge and experience Māori (and Pasifika) nurses bring with them is beyond value.

“But we want to see te Tiriti upheld in every area of the health system so those nurses are free to act in a culturally appropriate way across the entire context of their work.”

She said NZNO did not support increasing overseas recruitment of health professionals.

“Our focus should be on growing our own health workforce instead of poaching nurses from poorer countries where they are sorely needed. And if we remain overly dependent on internationally qualified nurses, we run the risk of having our supply cut off again should there be another global pandemic.”

However, Ms Daniels said she wanted to acknowledge the mahi of Health Minister Ayesha Verrall.

“I would like to thank the Minister for admitting there are serious problems in health and for her commitment to continue working with the sector to address those issues. NZNO is also keen for that dialogue to continue.”


Media enquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 |

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